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The Kroger Co. on Thursday posted fourth-quarter sales of $26.2 billion -- including fuel and the recently acquired Roundy's -- an increase of 3.8 percent from last year's $25.2 billion.
Identical sales without fuel grew 3.7 percent, or 3.9 percent including Roundy's, marking the Cincinnati-based grocer's 49th consecutive quarter of positive identical supermarket sales growth.
Total sales excluding fuel increased 6.5 percent in Q4 over the year-ago; excluding Roundy’s, sales without fuel increased 4.4 percent.
Additionally, net earnings for Q4 totaled $559 million, or $0.57 per diluted share.
“We delivered on our performance targets, grew market share, created 9,000 new jobs, supported our communities, and continued to expand our use of technology to drive growth," said Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen. "And we’re not done. In 2016, we will continue making a difference for our customers and associates, growing our business, and delivering value for shareholders.”
For its full fiscal year 2015, Kroger's total sales were up 6 percent excluding fuel compared to last year. Excluding Roundy’s, total sales without fuel increased 5.5 percent in 2015, while sales including fuel and Roundy’s increased 1.3 percent to $109.8 billion compared to $108.5 billion in 2014.
Net earnings came in at $2.06 per diluted share and identical supermarket sales growth, without fuel, was up 5 percent. Net earnings for 2015 totaled $2.04 billion, or $2.06 per diluted share.
Kroger returned more than $1.1 billion to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends in 2015, and repurchased approximately 19 million common shares for a total investment of $703 million. The company also said it grew its workforce by more than 9,000 during the year.
“Kroger is a place where people can come for a job and stay for a career,” McMullen added. “Our growth strategy is creating even more opportunities for our people, including leaders at all levels. We believe this opportunity culture is a differentiator for Kroger.”
The company expects capital investments to be in the $4.1 to $4.4 billion range for 2016, along with identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, of approximately 2.5 to 3.5 percent.
Kroger operates 2,778 retail food stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia.